US wants UN Security Council to extend Iran arms embargo

The embargo, put in place as part of a nuclear accord signed with Teheran in 2015, is set to expire in October. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - The United States has proposed a UN Security Council resolution condemning a devastating 2019 attack on Saudi oil facilities that it blames on Iran and proposing an extension of an arms embargo against the Islamic republic, sources said on Tuesday (June 23).

The embargo, put in place as part of a nuclear accord signed with Teheran in 2015, is set to expire in October, but Washington has been working to extend the ban as tensions with its arch-rival remain high.

On Friday, France, the UK and Germany - all signatories to the deal - issued a joint statement arguing against lifting the ban as scheduled, saying it could have "major implications for regional security and stability." The US resolution - a draft of which was obtained by AFP - "condemns the attacks of September 2019 against Saudi Arabia carried out by Iran".

It also calls for the body to "prohibit the supply, sale or transfer, direct or indirect... of weapons and related materials", excluding those that are approved with 30 days' notice.

No date has been scheduled for a vote on the resolution and it is unlikely to pass, as veto-wielding China and Russia have already spoken out against extending the embargo.

The 2019 attacks on Saudi state oil giant Aramco's facilities caused extensive damage and briefly interrupted production of half of the country's oil output.

Parts of the cruise missiles and drones used in the attacks were either made in Iran or exported there, according to a UN report based on an examination of the debris released earlier this month.

Observers say the US attempt to extend the embargo is part of its efforts to re-impose UN sanctions on Iran, lifted in 2015 when the agreement was signed.

France, the UK and Germany have already rejected any "unilateral attempt" to re-impose UN sanctions on Iran.

Iran agreed with major world powers in 2015 to freeze its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of punishing international sanctions.

But in 2018, US President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement and reimposed sanctions, prompting Iran to roll back its own commitments.

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